For Immediate Release
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Pakistani Govt. Held in Contempt of Court for Failure to Stop US Drone Strikes
WASHINGTON - The Peshawar High Court (PHC) today began contempt proceedings against the Government of Pakistan for its failure to take steps to stop US drone strikes.
Chief Justice Dost Mohammad summoned Pakistan’s federal Secretary for Foreign Affairs and its Attorney General to appear before the court within 20 days to show why orders to stop drone strikes have not yet been implemented.
Today’s contempt proceedings relate to the court’s landmark decision in the case of civilian victims of a March 2011 drone strike. Finding the US guilty of war crimes and the Pakistani state duty bound to protect its citizen’s constitutional right to life, the court ordered the Government of Pakistan to take a series of steps to stop drone strikes on its territory.
Those steps included taking the matter to the UN Security Council, and in the event it did not succeed there, requesting an urgent meeting of the General Assembly in order to resolve the matter. Given the strikes constitute a serious breach of the Geneva Conventions, the government was also ordered to formally request that the UN Secretary General establish a War Crimes Tribunal to investigate the matter.
Finally, the court also held that the U.S. Government is bound to compensate all the victims’ families and ordered the Pakistani Government should take steps to ensure that this happened immediately.
In April 2012, Pakistan’s Supreme Court held then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt for his failure to reopen corruption charges against then President Asif Ali Zardari. The charges ultimately forced the Prime Minister’s resignation.
Shahzad Akbar, lawyer for victims in the case and Reprieve legal fellow in Pakistan said: “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised during his campaign that he would stop the drones. It’s time for him to deliver on his promise by implementing the Peshawar High Court’s decision. He is either against the drones or colluding with the US. Which is it?”
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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.